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Personal Presentation at the Interview

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Tips for Getting Hired

From the moment you make eye contact with your interviewer, to the moment you leave the room, you are on show. Don’t let this intimidate you; instead, follow our personal presentation tips and put your best foot forward.

Personal Grooming

Although it may seem obvious to be neat and tidy for the interview, be sure to pay extra attention to your personal grooming. Small details count towards your overall impression, so don’t neglect the following:

  • Shoes – should be cleaned and polished; heels should be in good repair.
  • Hair – should be neatly groomed. Long hair should be tied back.
  • Facial Hair – should always be clean shaven. Beards should be trimmed and tidy.
  • Nails – should be clean, cut short or nicely manicured.
  • Breath and Body Odour – should be non-existent, or fresh and pleasant. Wear clean clothing and use deodorant; but avoid strong perfume. Avoid smoking cigarettes before the interview. Also resist eating garlicky or spicy food 24 hours beforehand.

In addition, if you’re carrying a bag, document folder or laptop, make sure it’s as clean as you are. Even the fairest interviewers subconsciously form opinions based on your appearance. This is especially true if your appearance is either unclean or unprofessional. Don’t allow a grubby rucksack to detract from your otherwise perfectly groomed visual image.

Dress Code

The only sure way to know the appropriate dress code for your interview is to ask in advance. Some company dress codes are relaxed and casual, while others adhere strictly to formal business attire. If at all in doubt, dress in a conservative and professional business suit. For men, this means a suit and tie. For women, a skirt or pants should be worn with a collared shirt and blazer. Accessories, including jewelry, should be kept to a minimum.

Overall, your clothing and accessories should draw little attention. Looking too fashionable and over-accessorizing can be just as distracting as a scruffy appearance. Aim to blend in with the company atmosphere rather than stand out.

Interview Etiquette

Good interview etiquette is essential to good personal presentation. Being on time, for example, demonstrates that you are organised, professional and trustworthy. Besides being punctual, here are some essentials of winning interview etiquette:

  • Handshake. Be firm and confident. Avoid clenching the interviewer’s hand too tightly (you don’t want to hurt them), but don’t give a soft, meek handshake either.
  • Eye contact. Make good eye contact with your interviewer, especially during the initial greeting, final farewell and as you acknowledge interview questions.
  • Use the interviewer’s name. A universal sign of respect, acknowledging the interviewer by name shows you are listening and involved. Take care not to over-do it; be as natural as possible.
  • Say ‘thank you’. As the interview ends, be sure to offer your thanks for the interviewer’s time and the opportunity you’ve been given. In addition, mail or email a brief post-interview thank you note the same evening.
  • Don’t discredit others. If you are asked about previous employers or workmates, never speak negatively. If you don’t have anything nice to say, best not to say anything at all.

Unfortunately, lack of etiquette will not go unnoticed. Forgetting any of the above will tarnish your personal presentation, making you appear rude or lazy. On the other hand, your efforts at good interview etiquette should go unnoticed, resulting in an easy, natural social interaction.

Self Confidence

Self confidence is paramount to positive personal presentation. If you’re not naturally self-confident in an interview situation, there are a few things you can do to help:

  • Rehearse. Remove the fear of being caught off-guard by practicing answers to common interview questions. It’s a good idea to rehearse out loud, in front of a mirror. Memorise the contents of your CV, including dates and job titles. This prevents uncomfortable silences during the interview should you be asked about a particular item in your CV.
  • Research. Take time to learn about your prospective employer. Read their website, know their competitors and get (at a minimum) a broad understanding of their marketplace.
  • Prepare. Arrange your travel plans in advance. Make sure you know where you are going and who to ask for. Print out any necessary documents at least 24 hours in advance, iron your clothes the night before and have everything ready to go.
  • Smile. Smiling releases endorphins that make you feel more relaxed and happy. Not only will smiling help you feel better when you’re nervous, a warm and natural smile will exude warmth as you meet your interviewer.
  • Tell the Truth. Exaggerating, lying or telling half truths is a surefire way to trip up and become nervous. Avoid embarrassing yourself and always tell the truth.

Winning your next job requires more than having the best qualifications. In fact, by the time you’re interviewed, your qualifications have already received the stamp of approval and it’s time for you to shine. That’s why it’s so important to project a positive image. Fortunately, personal presentation is easy to get right. Follow the tips in this article and seize the opportunity to make a lasting first impression that gets you hired.

Visit The Job interview section for more articles related to your job preparation.

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